Australia could provide logistical support to the US in the event of a conflict in the Taiwan Strait, academics said on Friday.
The academics’ comments on Canberra’s possible role in the Taiwan Strait came after Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday in a radio interview with Melbourne’s 3AW said in response to questions about his government’s policy on Taiwan that Australia has “always stood for freedom.”
Australia has participated in joint naval drills as a Quadrilateral Security Dialogue member in Malabar in November last year and in the Bay of Bengal last month. The exercises were seen as part of a US-led effort to check Beijing’s aggressive behavior in the region.
Australia has supported the US in Afghanistan and the Middle East mainly with logistics and joined combat operations only when necessary, Institute for National Defense and Security Research assistant research fellow Paul Huang (黃恩浩) said.
If Australia participates in a US-led effort to aid Taiwan during a Chinese attack, it would likely take on a role similar to that in Afghanistan, he said.
Australia could protect maritime lines of communications, provide sea and airlift capabilities, and engage in combat operations under certain conditions, he said.
The Royal Australian Navy and the US Navy could conduct joint escort operations in the South China Sea and international waters near Taiwan, he said.
Due to treaty obligations and strategic concerns, Japan is certain to join the US in a conflict with China in the Taiwan Strait, National Chengchi University assistant professor of international affairs Chen Wen-chia (陳文甲) said.
As a signatory of the Australia, New Zealand, United States Security Treaty, an important US ally and a partner of the US’ Indo-Pacific Strategy, Canberra would send forces to aid the US, he said.
However, Australia is unlikely to send ships to the Taiwan Strait and would probably conduct operations in the periphery of a conflict, such as the South China Sea, and support the US with medical ships and supplies, he said.
In the absence of a pre-existing security framework, any Australian action in support of Taiwan would be conducted through its military alliance with the US, he said.
As such, Taipei should focus on facilitating exchanges with Canberra in affairs outside of military cooperation under the premise of enhancing Taiwan-US relations, he said.
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